KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Three practices, a community give-back event and two Disney trips down, one Pro Bowl left to go.
Vikings.com caught up with safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Eric Kendricks following the NFC squad's final Pro Bowl practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports before Sunday's game at 2 p.m. (CT).
The week of festivities is old hat to Smith, who is participating in a Pro Bowl for the fifth time. He again is using his time to draw from players representing other squads.
"The number-one thing is being down here with guys that you compete against, coaches that you compete against, just kind of getting to know them as a person and maybe talk to them about a little ball, [find out] what they're like as a person," Smith said. "It's more of a personable thing than a real game. That's the fun part."
Smith has been joined in Orlando by seven Vikings teammates: Kendricks, Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Kirk Cousins, C.J. Ham and Xavier Rhodes.
While participating in the Pro Bowl is a little bittersweet because the Vikings wish they were instead preparing for next weekend's Super Bowl, Smith is proud to represent Minnesota for the all-star game.
"Hopefully we're a good representation of [the Vikings]," he said. "We still kind of roll together. We stick together, and it's good to have your teammates with you."
View images of the Vikings posing for the team photo at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl.
Smith especially has enjoyed sharing the experience with Kendricks, who received his first career Pro Bowl invite when he was added to the group as an alternate following the 49ers win in the NFC Championship Game.
"I was pumped. I kind of thought there was a chance of that happening," Smith said. "He deserved to be in it off the jump, but it's good that he got in. I'm proud of him, and I'm happy for him."
After the NFC's first practice, Kendricks had the honor of breaking down the team huddle.
We asked Kendricks Saturday about the experience earlier in the week, and he laughed.
"I was not expecting it, first and foremost," he said. "I went in there, and I almost said 'Vikings,' and then I almost said, 'Defense.' And then it was like, 'Oh, NFC?' I just said, 'Ball out. Everybody, Ball on 3.' But I was rattled. I'm not even gonna lie. I didn't know what to say."
While Kendricks is not one to focus on individual achievements, he called it a blessing to be part of this year's Pro Bowl roster.
"I'm just happy to be surrounded by a bunch of these guys," Kendricks said. "This has obviously been a dream of mine, so you've gotta pinch me a little bit. I'm just taking advantage of the opportunity and not taking it for granted.
"It's awesome," he added of the Vikings strong showing. "It's an obvious testament to our hard work and our season we had, but I feel like we could have had some more guys out here, you know what I mean? We've got a bunch of ballers. It definitely shows. We've got eight of them."
In addition to the week's practices, Smith and Kendricks joined forces for a Community Huddle event Friday, and they visited Walt Disney World on Friday and Saturday afternoon, respectively.
Smith is an old-school football player on the field, and he approaches theme parks the same way.
"I'm not into the new virtual stuff; it kind of messes my head up," he said. "I like the old-school roller coasters. [Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom], even though that's old, was my favorite one, no doubt."
Meanwhile, Kendricks is well-accustomed to being compared to a modern Disney film, Moana. He often is told he looks like Maui, the character voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
"You're welcommee," he sang, playing along. "Yeah, I don't have any tattoos, but I've been thinking about Halloween costumes and potentially bringing it out for this next year. Stay tuned."
Kendricks has never been the star of an animated film, but Smith is projecting the linebacker to stand out in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
"I feel like he might be the defensive MVP of the game. We'll find out," Smith said. "You never know with the Pro Bowl. It could go a bunch of different ways. But I'd be surprised if Eric doesn't get his hands on a ball or two."